With disappointing seasons for both basketball programs, perhaps the worst football team in program history, and, well, zero national championships, it was a generally rough 2018 for UConn athletics. Luckily, it’s a new year, and fittingly, in the first sports roundtable of 2019, the section shares their New Year’s resolutions for the Huskies. Let’s hope they stick to them.
I think the most obvious one has to be winning football games. The program’s ineptitude has been a drain on the athletic department and the UConn community at large. Fans don’t want to go see pathetic teams. Having a good football team to rally around would not only increase the fandom and prospective revenue, but also the increasingly shrinking sliver of hope of landing in a Power Five conference. In the off-chance expansion happens, no conference can take on the dumpster fire that has been UConn football in this landscape. Other minor things I would love to see are getting premier home basketball games, like Florida, in Gampel, not XL. I’d like the department to finagle their way out of the disaster that is the upcoming ice rink and find a sensible plan. And as the legislators move toward legalized sports betting, I would like UConn to leverage some action from the action for themselves.
The biggest New Year’s resolution for UConn athletics has to be revamping the football program. They’re already making some changes to the coaches, namely hiring Lou Spanos as the new defensive coordinator, which is good. However, it’s the team on the field that wins the football games, and the bottom line is that UConn does not have a very talented team. Furthermore, no talented recruits are going to want to come to a team that was as pathetic as last year’s team. So I think the goal for the football team should be to develop the players that you have, and see if you can win a few more games this year to show that the program is at least improving. Then, maybe some better recruits will be tempted to come here and help UConn get back to where they were in the first Randy Edsall era.
The football team would be the obvious choice, but I’m going in a different direction: the men’s basketball team has to learn to win close games. Five of their last six losses have been by 10 points or fewer. Foul trouble, sloppy turnovers and average free throw shooting have plagued the team all season. Cleaning up the late game errors could be the difference between a deep run in March and the season ending before Spring Break. Even if they don’t make the tournament this year, learning how to stay composed and finish games will be invaluable to the team going forward.
As much as the horrible football season and zero national championships hurt in 2018, the university-wide New Year’s resolution should be to start making money. The athletic department lost about $40 million last year. There is no quick fix that will magically make that kind of deficit disappear. Steps toward not only eliminating this loss but making money needs to be a top priority. The conversation about either eliminating certain sports or realigning the current conference fiasco needs to happen. The sooner money isn’t at the forefront of every conversation about the athletic department, the sooner UConn athletics will be relevant again.
While the university has some serious financial issues in the athletic department (like spending way more money than they bring in), there’s another issue no one is talking about: the lack of throwback uniforms. Randy Edsall attempted a “throwback” by bringing back the block C helmet decal for a few games, but what about basketball? 2019 looks to be a promising year for UConn basketball with a legit recruiting class and veteran leadership in coach Hurley’s second year of restoring the program. Christian Vital and Alterique Gilbert running around Gampel in Ray Allen-era throwbacks should 100 percent be UConn’s New Year’s resolution for 2019.